October 15, 2020
Filed Under: Work from Home

Tips for making the most of video calls while you work from home

This year, many of us have gotten a crash course in working remotely. With in-person meetings on pause until further notice, video calls have stepped up to the plate to keep us all in the loop. Though no one knows how long we’ll be working from home, the truth is that video conferences are assuredly here to stay. Some statistics show as many as 98% of post-COVID meetings will include participants joining from home.

Sure, sometimes video calls are awkward. Sometimes they’re entertaining. And, of course, sometimes they’re outright frustrating. Anyone who’s ever been repeatedly frozen mid-sentence or been distracted by a coworker’s crazy background or barking dog knows this all too well. And while you can’t account for every possible snafu, you can set yourself up for success.

Here are some well-intentioned tips to help you navigate the do’s and don’ts of at-home video conferencing.

1. Find your light

When you’re on a video call, natural light is your best friend. While it’s best to avoid direct sunlight, positioning yourself near a window will help your face appear clear. If sitting next to a window isn’t possible, sit near a lamp. Overhead light can cast unflattering shadows or wash you out entirely if it’s too bright. Whatever you do, avoid having the window at your back. Being backlit can make it difficult to see your face at all.

If you have funds to spare, try investing in one of these inexpensive video conference lighting solutions or, add a background to your video call.

2. Make sure you have a strong connection

Testing your internet connection before your video call can help you avoid the awkward and frustrating screen freeze. Zoom recommends your internet speed capable of hitting at least 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps) to avoid lag time and frozen screen. Not sure what your connection speed is? Free speed test tools like Fast.com or Speedtest.net can tell you. You can also try taking your video calls closer to your Wi-Fi router. Or, better still, get a Wi-Fi extender to carry the signal further. You have a number of great choices, all under $50.

Here’s the best tip: Simply and easily hop online via the crazy-fast, half-gig internet that comes standard with every Pecan Square home. With our full, whole home Wi-Fi coverage, you’ll be able to access the Internet from the front porch to the patio without missing a second. For those who have an insatiable need for speed, you can easily upgrade to a full gig in a snap.

3. Choose a neutral background

Avoid busy backgrounds. Not only are they unprofessional, they’re also distracting. Basic backgrounds, on the other hand, can seriously elevate your level of professionalism. A neutral backdrop, like a wall, is a great, safe bet. Check out sites like Canva to find a safe option. If that’s not available, most video conferencing solutions have an option that lets you blur your background or upload a digital image to obscure your physical space.

4. Know when to go on mute

To avoid audio interruptions, it’s best to keep your microphone on mute when you’re not speaking. Doing so can minimize environmental distractions, like pets or children, that might distract clients or coworkers. It’s especially smart to remain muted upon entering a video call. It will give you an opportunity to get settled in without accidentally voicing frustrations because you can’t locate your headphones or sat on the dog’s squeaky toy.

5. Dress the part

Video meetings are every bit as important as in-person meetings. In other words, you need to dress professionally. Make sure to skip sleeveless tops. They can make it appear as though you’re not wearing a stitch! Stripes are out, too. On camera they can appear distorted and cause more visually sensitive coworkers to experience vertigo or motion sickness. While you’re at it, leave the reflective jewelry in the box, as well.

6. Be real!

It’s always best to keep children and pets entertained while you’re on a video call. However, even with the best planning, the unexpected is bound to happen on occasion. Don’t stress too much if you get interrupted. Rest assured, others will get interrupted—or have been—a time or two. Introducing your family, including your furry pet, to your colleagues can help break the ice. And remember, we’re all in the same boat. Everyone’s going to understand if you need to briefly excuse yourself.

As video calls become the working world’s new normal, it’s important to know how to make the most of them. Displaying a little videoconference etiquette can go a long way when you’re relegated to working, and meeting, from home.